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Papers Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs 1871-1974

    Aletta Jacobs’ archive consists mostly of letters from women from many countries; it spans the period from 1876 to 1929. This library was founded in 1935 by Rosa Manus, W.H. Posthumus-van der Goot and Johanna Naber, and was called the International Archives for the Women’s Movement (IAV) in Amsterdam. In a letter to Posthumus-van der Goot from October 14, 1936, Rosa Manus writes from Montreux, Switzerland, that they have to open the ‘Jacobs’ trunk’, when she will be back in Amsterdam. The ‘First Annual Report of the International Archives for the Women’s Movement, from the foundation until the 1st of May 1937’, reports that Rosa Manus has given a big part of her own library, including very precious material from Dr. Aletta H. Jacobs, to the International Archives (p. 166). On July 2, 1940, an abrupt end came to the flourishing beginning of the IAV: the German Sicherheitsdienst knocked on the door of the IAV, told the two women who were present to leave, and sealed the door. A few days later the Germans removed the complete content of the IAV to Germany. After the war, in 1947, only one tenth of the material came back. Since 1992, part of this fonds was stored there in a special archive in Moscow since 1945. The Russians gave these archives back in 2003. Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs was born on February 9, 1854 in Sappemeer. She received her medical degree on April 2, 1878, and her medical doctorate on March 8, 1879. During those years Jacobs became concerned with social injustice; among other things, she was appalled by the Dutch marriage laws. In March 1879, she went to London for a few months because she had read in British women’s magazines about male professors, doctors, and students actively sabotaging women’s attempts to study medicine in England. She returned to Amsterdam to attend the conference on the advancement of medical science. Afterwards she began to practice as a doctor on the Herengracht. Through B.H. Heldt, leader of the Dutch General Trade Union, Jacobs was introduced to other members of the trade union’s board. In the winter of 1880, Jacobs opened a course for women to teach them the rudiments of hygiene and the rudiments of caring for infants. Then, she decided to hold a free clinic two mornings a week for destitute women and children, a practice she continued for fourteen years. These free clinics for poor women brought her in close contact with the issue of birth control. In 1894 the Dutch Association for Woman’s Suffrage was established. Jacobs became president of the Amsterdam branch in 1895. In 1903 she accepted the organisation’s leadership. In 1919 votes for women became a legal reality in the Netherlands. Jacobs also worked for the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA). Among other things she made two trips with Carrie Chapman Catt to help women in their fight for women’s suffrage. In September 1906 they travelled to Austria-Hungary and from June 1911 till November 1912 through Africa and Asia. In 1898 she participated in the first international peace conference hosted by the Netherlands. At first, Jacobs did little work for pacifism, although she always accompanied her husband, Carel Victor Gerritsen (1850-1905), whenever he attended the meetings of the Interparliamentary Union. When the WWI started in 1914, Jacobs became more active because she wanted to call on women from every nation to protest against the horrors of war. Jacobs, with the help of many other women, organized the International Congress of Women at The Hague. She died on August 10, 1929 in a hotel in Baarn, during a visit to Rosa Manus.

    Original source name : Papers Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs 1871-1974
    English translation : Papers Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs 1871-1974
    Creator : personal fonds
    Document- type 1 : correspondence
    Reference number : IIAV00000081
    Language(s) : English, Dutch
    Geographical coverage : Worldwide
    Time range : 19th-20th c.
    Year(s) : 1871-1974
    Theme 1 : education
    Theme 2 : philanthropy
    Link to the item in the catalogue :
    Publication(s) : Not restricted. Only to be consulted digitally, except the inventory numbers 595-625, 636, 649-657, 658. Papers Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs , …, Collection International Archives for the Women's Movement (IAV), in Atria, Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History
    Archive name : Kennisinstituut voor Emancipatie en Vrouwengeschiedenis
    Archive name (English) : Atria, Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History
    Archive address : Vijzelstraat 20 - 1017 HK Amsterdam - The Netherlands
    City : Amsterdam
    Country : Netherlands
    Official website and institutional resources :
    Finding aid(s) : Pdf download: Each document can be downloaded individually: scroll down the collection's webpage and access the PDFs.
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